To determine whether the Department of State (Department) is adequately monitoring and enforcing the requirements for security guards under the Security Guard Act. The audit covered the period from April 1, 2016 to November 23, 2020.
About the Program
Article 7-A of the General Business Law – referred to as the Security Guard Act (Act) – requires that individuals must have a valid security guard registration issued by the Department before working as a security guard. Prospective security guards must file an application with the Department’s Division of Licensing Services (Division) and meet several criteria required by the Act, including completion of pre-assignment training and having no criminal conviction of a serious offense or misdemeanor. Security guards must renew their registrations every two years. The Department is also required to maintain a computerized registry of all security guard registration applicants, through which employers must verify the status of security guards before employment. Additionally, upon completion of a criminal history background check during the initial application process, the Division receives arrest notifications for anyone having applied for a security guard registration from the Division of Criminal Justice Services. The Division reviews arrest notifications to ensure security guards remain in compliance with the Act’s requirements. Between April 1, 2016 and September 27, 2019, the Division received 317,463 security guard applications – 130,244 original registration applications and 187,219 renewal registration applications.
- The Department generally complies with the Act’s requirements, having processes in place to ensure only individuals meeting the Act’s requirements are issued registration cards, and maintaining an accurate registry of security guard applicants.
- The Department lacks sufficient internal controls to proactively monitor training requirements for security guards classified as police and peace officers – a classification that includes individuals who are retired. We identified instances where the Department inappropriately renewed security guard registrations for security guards with these classifications without evidence that training was completed. For example, we identified that 26 security guards classified as police or peace officers did not complete all required trainings, including 20 armed security guards who did not complete annual firearms training.
- Improvements to strengthen the Division’s policies and procedures can be made to further enhance the Division’s oversight and provide greater assurance that registered security guards meet the Act’s requirements. For example, our review identified:
- Fourteen of the 50 arrest notifications of registered security guards (28 percent) selected for review included security guards who were either inactive (13 guards) or had their application denied (one guard). Four (11 percent) of the remaining 36 arrest notifications did not comply with the Division’s policies and procedures.
- Twenty-four renewal forms were received and processed in excess of six months from their expiration date, contrary to the Division’s renewal policy.
- Develop processes to effectively monitor and review training records, especially for armed security guards classified as peace/police officers, to ensure these guards are in compliance with the Act.
- Enhance current procedures for reviewing arrest notifications of registered security guards, including a clearly defined process for following criminal cases and taking action against security guards charged with serious offenses.
- Enhance current renewal application policies and procedures to ensure consistency in processing security guard renewal applications.
State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Brian Reilly
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236